June 15, 2004


I just returned from an epic 4 days in Las Vegas. The trip was sort of like a bachelor party for a couple of guys in the department that are getting married (not to each other) and consisted mainly of gambling and drinking. I quickly discovered that I could never make it as a professional gambler because: A. My luck sucks. B. I am way too miserly to buy in again after busting in a game. I did a lot of busting, in fact I busted in every game I played and at no point had more chips than I bought in with at any given table. After wandering in and out of casinos and losing money on the first night, I came to perceive Las Vegas as a colossal noisy machine in the desert, similar to White Dan, existing for the sole purpose of sucking money out of tourists instead of capturing bison and processing them into bison products.

On the second night, I determined that wandering around inside that machine and examining its workings is amazingly entertaining after consuming 13 beers in a hotel room and heckling a cover band from the balcony. In this extremely intoxicated state, Nate managed to win back some quantity of money from the Frontier Casino that had been taken earlier in the day by Marvin, the most ruthless blackjack dealer in Vegas ("come back so I can take some more of your school money"). Nate also managed to knock cigar ashes all over the table, and everyone else did their part to make us an attractive target for getting thrown out. I am surprised we didn't end up in a back room getting our legs broken by Joe Pesci.

Later that night, we wandered in and out of multiple casinos in our drunken state, while other members of our group enjoyed even less wholesome pursuits. Eventually, we realized that we were painfully hungry and ended up in the Barbary Coast, eating $3.00 hash browns and eggs at about 1:00 in the morning.

Over the course of the trip, I took a liking to run-down casinos like the Barbary Coast, the Imperial Palace, and Casino Royale, and not just because it is cheaper to gamble there. There is a lot of classic Vegas character in those places. The cocktail waitresses all seem to be in their 40's, and are grizzled, depressed, and surly from countless nights of exposure to cigarette tar and drunken loudmouths. The dealers are equally surly and tar covered, but seem to have a slightly more positive outlook, perhaps because they don't have to wear corsets. The pit bosses are mostly older Italian looking guys that perfectly fit the image that comes to mind when you think of the term "pit boss". The Barbary Coast also had $1.00 drinks, which may have played a part in my affinity for it.

The expensive fancy casinos were cool in their own ways as well. The Venetian indoor canal is pretty neat, even if the casino has some kind of nauseating perfume pumping throughout its ventilation system. I greatly respect Caesar’s Palace for building a futuristic prison to contain Celine Dion, even if the interior of the casino is so gaudy and confusing that it made my eyes bleed and brain short circuit (I envision a Return of the Jedi type scene, where an angry casino official at Caesar’s activates a hidden trap door beneath a gambler, dropping him into a pit to meet his doom at the hands of the horrible creature that is Celine Dion). The Luxor also had my approval, mainly for its bountiful buffet, which we utterly decimated after a full day of intentional fasting.

The most enjoyable activity I took part in (i.e. lost money at the slowest) was low-limit Texas Hold 'em poker at the pleasingly dilapidated Imperial Palace. Even if you never place a bet, you can manage to only spend about $6.00 an hour playing, and get free (good) drinks regularly. In keeping with my terrible luck in Vegas, I only had playable hands about 4 times in 8 hours of play. I always ended up getting frustrated, chasing draws, and trying to bluff people, which never works at a table where it can only cost a player a maximum of $4.00 to call a bet. We met some interesting folks at the poker tables, including a guy from Honduras with a sweet curly mullet, and a belligerent drunk asshead that wouldn't stop giving Nate shit for going to school at Pepperdine. Hopefully, I will completely dominate our next no-limit hold 'em home game because IT IS ABOUT TIME FOR ME TO START GETTING SOME GODDAMN GOOD CARDS!!!!!!1

As a last act of gambling, Rick and Dave each laid down about $100 on the roulette table. Dave won, Rick lost, and I reaffirmed that I would never make it as a professional gambler because I felt no desire what so ever to attempt to compensate for my losses by making a similar bold bet. We ended up not sleeping that night, drinking several gin and tonics starting at 5:00 A.M., and wandering drunk, past joggers on the strip, and into Starbucks for a dose of caffeine in a futile attempt at making it through the day to come. Our flight back and the entire next day were filled with grogginess, as expected. If I ever find out who was responsible for the jackhammer running outside the exit of the Portland Airport, I swear I will ..... scowl at him/her. And thus ended my Vegas adventure. I will end this post with a few choice quotes, which may only be funny to those who went on the trip because they are sort of inside jokes, so beware.

Pit Boss: "Looks like we should get some more chips for your table there Marvin".
Marvin (looking at us): "No man, I will be getting some more from these guys real soon"

Marvin: "Hey guys, come back soon so I can win some more of your school money".

Me: "All I know is that I heard a lot of LAUGHING coming out of that room last night".

Brett: "You are an Idiot. All of your friends are idiots. You all deserve to rot in hell."

Unidentified Piston's fan at the Mandalay Bay sports book who was double-fisting Foster's: "Yeah, Kobe Bryant is a good player... for a rapist".

Me following Nate's poker performance: "After that, your bankroll must be up-regulated constitutive HUGE baby!"

Baby on the shuttle bus back to our car: "BWAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!"

Nate in response to baby: "I don't like small humans."


Posted by doug at June 15, 2004 05:37 PM

Whoah! Where did this entry come from? The first it showed up (for me) was Sunday morning, but it seems to have been posted on Tuesday....?

Anyway, I'm a little disappointed that you didn't bring more molecular biology to bear on Las Vegas. While "upregulated constituitively huge" is fucking awesome, everyone knows that science puns are secret code to turn the house in your favor. Just think of all the great Blackjack-p21 jokes you could have made. Or the Drosophila-based cards (.pdf) you could have pulled out.

Posted by: Jacob at June 20, 2004 03:54 PM

Yeah, freaky stuff was going on with this update. I think it had something to do with saving it as a 'draft' instead of publishing it right away. As far as molecular biology in Vegas goes, we did bust out a bit more than I reported, although I am sure we could have done better if we really tried. We had an assmaster cab driver that was sort of hitting on Dave's girlfriend. When he asked Dave what he did, Dave truthfully responded: "I study the evolutionary genetics of a human pathogen." which shut the guy up for a while. I also vaguely remember a drunken discussion on the night that half of our party ended up at a gentleman's club about the design of some kind of UAS construct that would drive the development of ectopic boobs in Drosophila. I think we talked about some kind of genetic screen using that construct as well, but memories of that night are hazy at best.

Posted by: Doug at June 22, 2004 02:28 PM